Students utilize summer to gain work experience


By Hannah Richardson,

Summer: a period between semesters where students are free to pursue hobbies and activities without worrying about their school work. While the summer months are seen as a sort of “wind-down” to several students, many take the opportunity of having some free time as a means to gain some work experience.

Some of our young local residents (and a few friends from outside the area) have been hard at work this summer with jobs/internships and gaining experience for their prospective futures. Just because they take their work seriously doesn’t mean they didn’t have fun and make friends along the way! Many of those I met with not only talked about what they’ve learned and why they decided to work, but also about the connections they’ve made and friendships they’ve formed.

Emily Salter

Emily Salter at a part-time sales associate at Bathhouse Soapery. She has been working there selling soaps and making gift bags for about a year. A senior at Northwestern State University, she is majoring in early childhood education with a minor in psychology. Salter strives to become first grade teacher in her future. “Working here, I’ve learned how to be a leader, take charge and be responsible. I also have two co-workers and we help each other out and work well together.”

Ben Smiley

Ben Smiley is a sophomore at St. Mary’s. He moved to Natchitoches from Athens, Ga. four months ago and has been an intern at First United Methodist Church for nearly three weeks. He plays the guitar during worship services and said during his internship, he has learned many leadership skills and how to work well with his bandmates. Smiley was also a stage manager at this year’s Jazz Festival and is looking forward to working with local band Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs at this year’s Christmas Festival.

Luke Zeagler

Luke Zeagler, also an intern at First United Methodist Church, has been there for over a year as a keyboardist. A sophomore a St. Mary’s, he said the most interesting part is learning about the technological aspect of worship services, while also helping out behind scenes. He aspires to be a pastor and enjoys communicating and working with his peers.

Nigel Richard

Nigel Richard, a middle school student, has been controlling slides and working the soundboard during worship services at First United Methodist Church during his internship. He said he enjoys his work and likes being involved.

Garrett Hood

Garrett Hood has been working with the students at Dazzle Dance Center as a hip-hop dance instructor during their summer classes. A dancer for three years, Hood graduated from Natchitoches Central High School this year and will be a freshman at Louisiana Tech University and will be on the Tech Cheer Team. He said working with the students has been a great experience, as he wants to open his own dance studio in the future. He also said being a dancer makes for a great icebreaker for conversations.

From left are Mackenzie Masters, Kristin Conwill and Jack McLoughin.

Historical artifacts and records featured at the Oakland and Magnolia Plantations have been well tended to these last few months, thanks to these three Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Mackenzie Masters, left, has been interning since last June and will continue to be there until November. A recent archeology graduate of Portland State University in Oregon, Masters learned about the internships through her university newsletter. One interesting aspect of her work is looking though records and lodging papers that are decades old and learning about the local history and people’s lives. With fellow intern Kristin Conwill, they both handle artifacts found in the plantations attics and take them back to the CRNHA’s headquarters, where they are studied, filed/tagged and taken care of in a safe environment before they are put on display. Conwill, in her last week as an intern, is a graduate student working towards her master’s degree in museum studies at the University of Florida. She said their main project is to do archeological research and learn more about the history of the area, while smaller projects require gathering artifacts and bringing them to HQ. She said since many of them have been kept in the hot attics and unstable environment, many items such as books have mold and other environmental factors. Jack McLoughin, an intern that attends the Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania and volunteer firefighter, focuses on the fire protection aspect of the parks. He makes sure the parks are up to the NFPA codes and said his internship has provided him with good hands-on experience. “Working with [Conwill and Masters], I’ve definitely learned a lot in my time here,” he said. His peers agreed, and said all of them have learned many things while working together.

Jack McLoughin with an old Pyrene fire extinguisher. To operate these extinguishers, you had to turn them upside down to mix two chemical solutions in order to put out fires.

Mackenzie Masters and Kristin Conwill carefully handle a book, which contained drawings such as this old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage. The book also showed bits of mold and wear obtained from being kept in an unstable environment for some time.